(SOCHI, Russia) — Whether the rest of the world believes it or not, the head of the International Olympic Committee on Monday declared that Sochi is ready for the 2014 Winter Games starting later this week.
IOC President Thomas Bach made that proclamation amid concerns that trouble won’t be far behind, given threats of terrorism and reports that some construction in the Olympic village is still ongoing.
Factor in accusations that Russia discriminates against gays and lesbians and the Sochi games possibly have the makings of a monumental disaster.
However, Bach, on the third day of touring Sochi, seemed determined not to belabor the negative, telling reporters, “Every big event is under threat, whether a political summit or another big convention, you name it.”
Meanwhile, there were already signs of what may be to come as some journalists arriving at the resort that will host the skiing and snowboarding events complained that either their assigned hotel rooms didn’t exist or already had people staying there.
Russia has had seven years to prepare for the Sochi Games with a cost estimated to be at least $50 billion.
One thing President Vladimir Putin has promised at Sochi is a so-called “ring of steel” to protect participants and visitors. Tens of thousands of soldiers and other security personnel have been assigned to the village to reduce the possibility of an attack.
As for the question about Russia’s prosecution of “no-traditional relations,” a code word for homosexuality, Bach said the IOC would address these concerns at a later date.
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Oren Liebermann, CNN
Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN